Megan Green (left, at microphone) and Jack Coatar at a Board of Aldermen meeting in 2019.
After a federal bribery scandal rocked St. Louis politics, a few cash bribes and a resignation left a Lewis Reed–sized hole in the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. Reed, the former president of the BOA, resigned from the position he held for 15 years. Alderman Joe Vollmer has served as interim president since then, but whoever wins the November 8 election will become the official Board of Aldermen President — at least until Reed’s term ends in April. Then we’ll have to do this all over again. Here is a look at the two candidates, Jack Coatar and Megan Green.
Current alderman of:
Seventh Ward, which includes Lafayette Square, Downtown West, Fox Park and Soulard, among other neighborhoods
Police unions, former mayors Lyda Krewson and Francis Slay, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Coatar hopes to make St. Louis a more appealing employer for all work sectors. “We’ve got a depleted city workforce,” Coatar tells the RFT
. “We are not paying city workers enough.”
For most, Coatar is a cool middle ground. His politics are far less left than that of Green, even though they’re both Democrats. Green looks beyond policing to solve the city’s crime problem. Coatar seeks to funnel resources into the city’s police force and 911 system. After the mass shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in south city, Coatar reiterated one of his campaign’s most frequent positions — the city needs more cops.
“The importance of well-trained, well-staffed police and EMS cannot be overstated,” Coatar said in a statement.
Why he might win:
Even though he lost to opponent Megan Green in August’s primary, Coatar’s aptly titled Jack PAC has received significantly more donations than Green’s campaign. (The reason both candidates are still in the race despite Coatar losing the primary is because St. Louis city has approval voting, which allows the top two vote getters to advance to the general election.)
Coatar is a lawyer for Clayton firm Spencer Fane and has the support of the city’s business and developers.
What critics say:
Some question the lawyer’s ethics. Coatar adamantly opposed Proposition R, a good-government measure tailored to ban aldermen from voting on measures where they have a conflict of interest. Critics also often point to a bill Coatar opposed in 2015 that would’ve raised the city’s minimum wage across the board. At the time, Coatar contended its passage would have caused businesses to move from St. Louis to St. Louis County.
Outside of lawyering, Coatar has represented the seventh ward since 2015. He’s a long-time resident of Soulard, a graduate of Saint Louis University (economics, political science and law) and a former assistant circuit attorney in the office of former Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce.
Most known for:
Sponsoring a bill that would have required a vendor’s license to feed the homeless
Campaign website: jackcoatar.com
Current alderman of:
15th Ward which includes Tower Grove East and South
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, U.S. Representative Cori Bush, labor unions
Green entered politics in 2014 when she declared her candidacy to represent Ward 15 five days before Michael Brown was murdered. Later, Green told the RFT
that witnessing the unrest in Ferguson galvanized her desire to create a more equitable St. Louis. “That’s been a lot of what has driven me since being in office,” Green said.
Racial and environmental justice is a large part of Green’s platform; the rallying cry of her campaign has been “Let’s build a St. Louis that works for everyone.” She points to how some areas of the city are thriving, while others fall behind, particularly in north city. “It’s intentional decisions that led to the bleeding and disinvestment of those neighborhoods,” Green said in an interview. “I think we have to be equally intentional now about how we invest dollars back into areas that have long been forgotten.”
Green has staunchly purported that the key to safer streets lies in community violence intervention programs, alternative crisis responses and resolution programs. She believes that the city cannot become safer without first addressing poverty, drug addiction and mental health needs.
What critics say:
Green is far more progressive than her opponent. While some view that as a good thing – a board president working in tandem with the city’s progressive mayor would get things done quicker – critics see Green’s politics as a possible detriment, creating an unbroken boulevard of green lights for expensive, far-left measures.
Why she might win:
This isn’t Green’s first run at the BOA presidency. The alderwoman came in last in the Democratic primary for BOA president in 2019. She was up against incumbent Lewis Reed and then-state Senator Jamilah Nasheed. But if September's primary election is any indication, Green may have more success this time around. Green beat Coater by seven percentage points in September — although only six percent of the city’s registered voters turned out.
Most known for:
Getting called a “skanky-ass bitch” by dead racist, sexist, anti-semitic radio host Bob Romanik, as the-Board President Lewis Reed laughed along
Campaign website: green4stl.com